Singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo helps musicians struggling with mental health and addiction issues

Texan singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo has been thrilling audiences for decades with his music.

Last week, Escovedo, Lucinda Williams and the band Wilco were announced as the 2021 inductees at the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame.

In addition to being an interpreter, Escovedo is also the co-founder of the SIMS Foundation – a service that provides assistance to Austin area musicians with addiction and mental health issues. As many musicians hit the road after the pandemic, SIMS launches the Challenge of the founders raise funds to support health services nationwide.

“It provides mental health care for virtually nothing to very, very small amounts of money,” Escovedo says. “By contacting the providers who come, the therapists who come to help us, we were able to help a lot of people. “

Musicians have struggled during the pandemic with little to no shows, tours, and opportunities to sell merchandise – a vital source of income for many. Pandemic isolation and lack of livelihoods can make more people – especially those with mental health or addiction issues – likely to need help.

“For some of us I think the break was kind of necessary, we worked so hard,” Escovedo said. “But for some of us too, I think some of those old habits started to come back and no way to seek support.”

When Escovedo’s tour was canceled in March 2020, he says it left a huge hole in his life and his music. On several occasions throughout the pandemic, he went through dark times that he was not sure he could overcome.

“There were days when I could connect with an old friend, but it was very rare,” he says, “I lost a lot of dear friends.

When country-folk singer-songwriter John Prine passed away, Escovedo says the loss completely destroyed him. The treatment of Prine’s death was difficult for Escovedo to overcome. The two had planned to play together, then Prine was just gone, says Escovedo.

As Escovedo prepares to go on tour again, he feels a mixture of emotions: eagerness, nervousness, apprehension. He says playing for him is a sweaty contact sport and with all the health and safety guidelines in place – wearing masks, being socially distanced, sanitizing the venue – it will be different to be back on stage.

“I won’t be able to go out and greet people. I don’t know who is a performer, who loves the audience. I really like playing with the audience, ”says Escovedo. “Being far away in the future is very, very strange.”

Escovedo, who has performed in a wide range of venues with many musicians for over 45 years, will leave a legacy behind. He says he hopes people will remember him as a songwriter who communicated with people and helped enrich their lives with his music.

“I love the music community. I like musicians, ”he says. “I was born into a family of musicians, it’s been part of my life since the day I was born so it’s just what I do.”

Emiko Tamagawa produced this interview and edited it for airing with Chris Bentley. Camila beiner adapted this interview for the web.

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